By Tom Randall, Bloomberg News; Detroit News staff writer Melissa Burden contributed
Tesla is going to need more chargers. Lots of them.
The company is preparing to launch its $35,000 Model 3 electric car later this year, with plans to make 500,000 EVs in 2018, up from 76,000 a year ago. To complement that growth, the company is boosting its network of Supercharger stations where Tesla owners can juice up their cars free of charge.
This year, the number of Superchargers available for public use will double from 5,000 to 10,000, according to a blog post that Tesla published Monday. That’s 39 percent more Superchargers than CEO Elon Musk promised for 2017 when he unveiled the Model 3. The company also will increase the number of so-called Destination Chargers at hotels and restaurants from 9,000 to 15,000.
Michigan is set to receive eight new locations, according to a map of upcoming U.S. Supercharger locations. Superchargers are planned for Traverse City, Lansing, Battle Creek, Ludington, St. Clair Shores, Livonia and Auburn Hills by the end of the year. A station also is slated for Grayling with no timeline given.
Tesla has Superchargers in Cadillac, Grand Rapids, Bay City, Port Huron, St. Joseph and Ann Arbor. The automaker has been challenging Michigan law that prevents the company from selling cars here.
Some of the new stations for these Superchargers will be powered by solar panels and will have enough chargers to accommodate “several dozen Teslas” at the same time. “Many sites will soon enter construction to open in advance of the summer travel season,” Tesla said in the post. “We’re moving full speed on site selection.”
Tesla also gave a first glimpse into its strategy for boosting charging options in urban centers like San Francisco, Chicago and New York, where it’s common to have multiunit residences with no dedicated parking. The Supercharger network was originally designed to enable long-distance travel between cities and are mostly located adjacent to major highways. Now, Tesla will be expanding charging locations into city centers as well.
Tesla, based in Palo Alto, said it’s also building bigger stations along its busiest routes and will add more than 1,000 Superchargers in California alone. The North American network will expand by 150 percent this year.